Players band together to pay tribute to Shotts 1970 and the first year of the Medley
Led by former Grade 1 leaders David Caldwell and John Scullion, several available pipers and drummers have come together to pay tribute to both the anniversary of the medley being used as a competition format in 1970 and the great World’s-winning Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia vintage of the same year.
They will perform the 1970 Shotts medley at the 2022 World Championships in the main arena on Saturday, August 13th, doing all they can to reproduce the authentic arrangement of that played 50 years ago.
In 1970, Shotts & Dykehead was led by Pipe-Major Tom McAllister Jr. and Lead-Drummer Alex Duthart, both late legends of the game with a solid place in the pipe band pantheon.
The idea was hatched in 2019 with the intention to perform at the 2020, but COVID-19 delayed things until now.
Each of the members of the tribute band have Grade 1 band experience, and the group has been busy digging up the settings and scores for other historic pipe band medleys:
- P-M David Caldwell
- Len Browne
- David Bruce
- Brian Crawford
- Nigel Davison
- Cameron Edgar
- Ben Greeves
- Clive MacFarland
- Kenny MacLeod
- David McLean
- Kevin Rogers
- Ken Stewart
- Graham Stirling
- James Walker
- Jim Wark
- Robert Wallace
- Gary Watterson
- L-D John Scullion
- James Brown
- Earl Glasgow
- Donald MacFadyen
- Ian MacMillan
- D. McCready (bass)
- Simpson McGrath
- Ian Thompson
- Geoff Wilson
- Stuart Wilson
Ian Duncan, Mark Falloon, Robert Mathieson and John Wilson were involved but can’t perform due to judging on the day.
The 1970 Shotts medley that the tribute group will play:
- March: “The Hills of Alva”
- Air: “Loch Broom Bay”
- Reel: “The Keel Row”
- Reel: “Stumpie”
- Reel” “Sgt. E MacDonald”
- Reel: “Sandy Duff”
- Jig: “Banjo Breakdown”
- Hornpipe: “Pipe-Major George S. Allen”
- March: “Hills of Alva: (reprise)
The pipe band medley was introduced as a competition format in 1970. Before then, Grade 1 bands had to submit three March, Strathspey & Reels, and play one drawn at the trigger.
In the 1950s, the Edinburgh City Police under Pipe-Major Donald Shaw Ramsay started to showcase selections of tunes in different time signatures, a novel concept for the time.
Other top bands, like Shotts, Muirhead & Sons, Red Hackle and the Glasgow Police followed suit, and the Scottish Pipe Band Association (before it gained “Royal” status) eventually introduced the contest format.
For the better part of the next decade, medleys often were simply an MSR followed by an air, a jig and a hornpipe to finish. Eventually bands like Dysart & Dundonald, Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and, from Ontario, Guelph, pushed the perceived boundaries of the format.
Coinciding with the first medley contests was the ushering in of an ensemble judge. Pipe band competitions were then judged by one piping, one drumming and one ensemble adjudicator, and a second piping judge was later added.
Caldwell was the pipe-major of the Grade 1 Eden Pipe Band of Northern Ireland and has plenty of experience playing with other top bands. Scullion is the former lead-drummer of Shotts & Dykehead in the 1980s and a five-time winner of the World Solo Drumming Championship.
The tribute band will play at around 1:30pm, just before the start of the Grade 1 Medley event, and it will be on BBC Scotland’s live-stream.